SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University has the first results from its five-year pilot study making the SAT optional for freshmen with outstanding high school records, and administrators are smiling.
"We feel we are off to a great start," said Dr. Ellen Neufeldt, vice president of student affairs.
In fall 2007 SU admitted 220 students of the freshman class of 1150 students under a new test-optional pilot program, the first in the University System of Maryland. Only students with high school grade point averages of 3.5 or higher in a rigorous college preparatory curriculum were allowed to apply without SAT or ACT scores.
The students in this program not only achieved at the same rate as their peers submitting SAT scores; in several areas they outperformed their test peers as a group:
--The GPA and credits earned after one semester are slightly higher for the test-optional group that the test-submitted group.
--Their first semester, a greater percentage of optional students earned GPAs at or above minimum standards compared to test-submitted freshmen.
Because of test-optional students, the overall class profile seems stronger.
For example, high school academic rigor increased, the test-optional students had 3 percentage points higher “rigorous” or “highly rigorous” high school academic curricula compared to their test-submitted peers. Among test-optional students the high school GPA was 3.71 while for test-submitted students it was 3.44. Involvement in high school extra-curricular activities also grew. Ratings of “very involved” or “extremely involved” were 3 percentage points higher for the test-optional compared to the test-submitted freshmen.
Geographic and economic diversity also were enhanced. The 2007 freshman class had more out-of-state representation over the previous year and a slightly higher percentage of out-of-state applicants in the test-optional group than the test-submitted. Economically, 39 percent of the test-optional students demonstrated financial need compared to 29 percent of test-submitted.
As a group, "these (test-optional) students met our goals of access showing a greater percentage of students from lower socioeconomic groups while outperforming the rest of the class," Neufeldt said.
Overall, the number of applicants under the new policy increased by 11.6 percent (6,601) for fall 2007, and the high school GPA increased to 3.5 in 2007 from 3.44 for the fall 2006 freshman class.
SU has had some of the highest graduation rates in the USM and preliminary evidence suggests the test-optional policy will enhance that tradition. Already for fall 2008, freshman applications are up 10 percent and SU anticipates an all-time record in freshman applicants exceeding 7,000 for a class of 1,200.
For more information, contact the SU Public Relations Office at 410-543-6030 or visit www.salisbury.edu.